Golden rules of feeding your dog

 Always have fresh clean drinking water available.

Water is the most important nutrient for your dog . Dogs (unlike cats) know when they are thirsty and will drink to meet their needs. The key is making sure a source of clean water is freely available to your dog.

Feed to Condition

Every dog is different. We base our feeding guides on the average amount of food required by the average dog but things like breed and metabolism might mean that your dog is different. If the amount of food we are recommending seems very different from what your dog currently eats don’t be alarmed, your dog is probably different from the average! The best rule of thumb is to feed to condition – if your dog is in good body condition then the amount of food you are currently feeding is probably correct.

Body Condition chart

Check your dog's body condition and for more information on how to safely reduce your dog's weight.

Body condition chart

When changing diets feed in gradually introduce the new food over a week to ten days

Changing your dog’s food suddenly can cause digestive system upsets. Change the food gradually over 10 days by mixing increasing quantities of the new food with decreasing quantities of the old food.

Click below for more information and advice:

About Feeding your Toy or Small Dog

Small dogs can tend to be fussier than larger dogs. Feeding a mixture of wet and dry foods to keep variety in the diet can be useful. The nutrients required by small dogs are the same as their larger counterparts but when it comes to dry food the size of the kibble or biscuit can be important. While most kibble products will be suitable for smaller mouths, baked biscuits can be too large for some (but by no means all) small dogs.

About Feeding your Large or Giant Dog

Large dogs require some special attention as youngsters as their growth period extends much longer than their smaller cousins. You should continue to feed your large dog on a puppy or growth diet until it is fully grown at around 18 months – ask your dog’s breeder or vet for information about when to switch to adult foods.

Large dogs show physical signs of ageing earlier than their smaller cousins. One of the best ways you can keep your dog happy and healthy is to ensure they are in good body condition. For more information on body condition and to find out how to help an overweight dog, click here .

Tips for Inactive Dogs

Is your dog a couch potato or just slowing down?

It’s very important to your dog’s physical and mental wellbeing to get exercise every day – two half hour walks a day is a good guideline. If your dog loves its food but isn’t so keen on a good walk, it can also help to build exercise into its day.

  • Rather than putting your dog’s kibble or biscuits in a bowl, why not spread the food out a little bit so he or she has to sniff it out?
  • Try a food dispensing ball that must be pushed around for the food to fall out? Little things like this can help to enrich your dog’s day and help to keep them to fit.

Even as dogs get older they still need to stay active. The pace might slow down but the amount of time your dog should be exercising stays the same. Two ½ hr walks a day will do your dog, and you, the world of good.

Feeding Tips for your Active Dog

Always have fresh clean drinking water available. A dog participating in as little as 2 hours of exercise a day can double their daily water requirement. Dogs know when they are thirsty and will drink to meet their needs. The key is making sure a source of clean water is freely available to your dog.

Access to water is particularly important if your dog is working hard in hot weather. Make sure that your dog has the opportunity to drink when it is participating in sustained physical activity. Human sports drinks are not appropriate for your dog, so don’t offer them; simple water is best.

A hard-working large dog can need as much as 2 to 3 times the energy of household pet. Dry food is more calorie-dense than wet food so feeding dry food can be more appropriate for a very active dog.

When to feed? Dogs can adapt to almost any feeding regime. However for peak performance, it is best to feed your dog after exercise rather than before. If you are going to feed your dog before exercise, try to feed it at least 4 hrs before exercise. You can aid your dog’s recovery from a bout of vigorous activity if you feed it within ½ hr of this exercise finishing.

Nutritional Needs for Pregnant Dogs

We recommend feeding a puppy or “all life stage growth” diet through the whole of the pregnancy but this is particularly important during the last 3 to 4 weeks of pregnancy. To check whether your food meets these criteria check the AAFCO statement on the pack – it should say that the food is formulated to meet AAFCO nutritional standards that provide a complete and balanced diet for either dogs in all life stages or puppies.

Do not feed your bitch any additional vitamin or mineral supplementation unless directed to by your vet. Excessive intake of some vitamins and minerals can cause birth defects in the puppies.Because of the increased energy requirements in the last 3 to 4 weeks of pregnancy we recommend feeding your bitch at least twice a day if not more often as she may struggle to consume enough food in one sitting to get all the energy she needs.

As a very rough guide a bitch who starts her pregnancy at a healthy body weight should increase her body weight by 15-25% at the time of whelping.

Nutritional Needs for Lactating Dogs

Your bitch should begin to start nesting 24 hours before birth, about 12 hours before birth she will typically refuse food. This is normal behaviour.

Always have fresh clean drinking water available. This is very important as the production of milk greatly increases her need for water

It is preferable to feed your lactating bitch a puppy/growth or all life stage diet as it is ideally suited to her demanding nutritional needs at this time. To check whether your food meets these criteria check the AAFCO statement on the pack – it should say that the food is formulated to meet AAFCO nutritional standards that provide a complete and balanced diet for either dogs in all life stages or puppies.

While lactating, your bitch will require a much greater energy intake and ensuring she eats enough can be challenging. To ensure adequate calorie we would recommend having food constantly available to her. However, if you want to offer meals, we would recommend at least three meals each day be offered. Dry food offers a more concentrated source of energy and is therefore preferable for a lactating bitch provided her intake of water is sufficient.

Nutrition and Wellbeing for Older Dogs

The best thing you can do for your senior dog to help them keep mobile and active is maintain a healthy body condition. This is particularly important as your dog ages because extra weight can cause extra stress on the joints. Although we provide feeding guides, the important thing to remember is they are guides only and you should feed to condition.

For more information on body condition and weight loss, click here .

One thing you may notice as your dog ages is that it can be less keen on its food than it used to be. As your dog ages, their sense of smell can decrease. This can result in a gradual loss of appetite and is a natural part of the ageing process. A sudden loss of appetite can be a symptom of an underlying health issue and should be checked with your vet.

Weight Loss and your Dog

Is my dog overweight?

Below is a body score chart to help you assess your dog’s body condition. If you’re concerned about your dog’s weight, talk to your vet.

Body Condition Chart

It is very important to ensure your dog is neither under- or over-weight. If your dog is in good body condition it is more likely to have a long, happy and healthy life. If your dog is skinny or overweight then you need to proportionally increase or decrease the amount of food you are feeding.

Weight Loss for Overweight and Obese Dogs

So you have recognised your dog needs to lose some weight. So how should you go about the weight loss? The key is to take it slow and be persistent and the message is not hugely different from human weight loss plans. Reduce your food intake & increase your dogs exercise.

A weight loss plan

Estimate your dogs target weight. This target weight should be no less than 85% of your current dog’s weight. If you think you dog is more than 15% overweight we recommend you see a vet as there may well be other underlying health concerns that need to be addressed.

Traps that slow weight loss

Food as a reward

If you use food as reward treats, reduce the size of your dog’s meals to compensate. As a rough guide, if you give 30 grams of dry treats, reduce the amount of dry food by 30 grams or the amount of wet food by 120 grams.

Watch those scraps and titbits:

Feeding your dog leftovers or giving them human food treats can quickly add calories to their diet. Try to resist those big brown eyes and you could be helping your dog to live a longer, healthier life.

Not Exercising

There really is no substitute. Make sure your dog is getting enough. Two ½ hr walks a day will do you and your dog the world of good even if your dog can’t go far or fast!